Estimated time on ice is imperfect, but a necessary metric because the real information is not available publicly. Why is it so important? Imagine watching a baseball game and seeing the man at the plate with a stats line of .354, 13 HR and 38 RBIs. Those are impressive numbers, but are not a completely clear picture. We can imagine a fleet leadoff man, with 101 runs scored over 154 games, or a fantastic platoon LF who gets the righty at-bats (fewer) in the tandem. Without at-bats, the signal remains out of sync. The actual at-bat total for those boxcars? 192, from rookie Willie McCovey in 1959.
So, even though they are estimates, the TOI totals are so important that, in my opinion, we can find real value from an educated guess. Eric Rodgers has been doing these estimates for several years now, and he is kind enough to share them with us a few times each year.
TOP FORWARD PROSPECTS
All three of these men are among my Top 10 prospects from the winter list, and all three should spend over 100 games in the NHL (and in at least one case substantially more). Rodgers estimates of a year ago had Slepyshev at 1.91/60 (this is in all disciplines) and Khaira at 2.05. That list, along with the 2014-15 run, is here.
Jesse Puljujarvi’s number is the highest for anyone 20 and under in the last three seasons, eclipsing Kyle Platzer’s 2.02/60 as a rookie pro.
SECOND TIER FORWARD PROSPECTS
The second tier are all running at about the same pace, but this is somewhat deceiving. Joey Laleggia as been a LW since the new year and is smoking the offense. I would guess he is close to 2.00/60 or more since January 1, but that is a guess. In my opinion Laleggia is the most promising of these prospect forwards at this time, and it is also fair to say we are unlikely to see any of them enjoy an extended NHL career.
LOWER LEVEL FORWARD PROSPECTS
Russell has been the one free-agent addition from college who hasn’t been able to find his way, and we did identify skating as being something he needed to improve. We will see in year two. Sallinen has played in the KHL and Sm-Liiga, so his inability to score probably tells the tale. Braden Christoffer is an energy player, but the boxcars need to be better. I think it is fair to say these three players are not trending in a direction that implies future NHL employment. Farm Workers teaches us that college men should be given extra time, but Eric’s estimates have him getting plenty of time to show his abilities.
I have sorted this by points-per-60 (in all disciplines) and the results are what we would expect to see. Also interesting is the EV goals for-against number, which suggests Griffin Reinhart and Dillon Simpson have been on the right side of the score often.
It seems clear that Matt Benning passed this entire group this season, and I do think that Oesterle, Reinhart and Simpson have a chance to play in the NHL. Betker is an interesting option as well, but we won’t know for some time.
BEST PROSPECT TOTALS (FORWARDS) 2014-17
- Anton Lander (2014-15) 2.74
- Anton Slepyshev (2016-17) 2.66
- Iiro Pakarinen (2014-15) 2.62
- Jesse Puljujarvi (2016-17) 2.31
- Tyler Pitlick (2014-15) 2.27
- Tyler Pitlick (2015-16) 2.13
- Jujhar Khaira (2015-16) 2.05
- Kyle Platzer (2015-16) 2.02
Question: Does the Puljujarvi number encourage you? I am generally encouraged by the overall total, but remain uncertain about his offensive outer marker. Is he a complementary offensive player? That is the same question we have been asking about Leon Draisaitl, and if both men land in that category, the Oilers will have exactly one forward who can push the river.